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1 Volume 16 Number 3 September 2005

IDENTIFY WITH LOVE


Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Introduction The section What Is the Body in Part II of the workbook closes with these inspiring words, which contrast the egos fearful lies regarding the body with loves truth, found in the right mind: You will identify with what you think will make you safe. Whatever it may be, you will believe that it is one with you. Your safety lies in truth, and not in lies. Love is your safety. Fear does not exist. Identify with love, and you are safe. Identify with love, and you are home. Identify with love, and find your Self (W-pII.5.5). Yet the ego teaches the opposite: we can be safe only in the world, but not without erecting effective bodily or material defensesindividually and collectively. All these, regardless of their form, are variations of its central defense known as the special relationship, which focuses exclusively on the body, the egos projected home of separation. Thus Jesus asks the rhetorical question: If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you want it? (T-16.V.10:1). The question is rhetorical because Jesus knows the answer, as do we: Absolutely! Why else would we choose specialness unless it preserved the triumph that gave us what we define as life, to replace life as God created it? And so we walk the earth, arming ourselves with the identity of scarcity and deprivationthe clothing of special- nessbelieving in our insanity that identifying with this special self protects us from Gods wrathful vengeance over what we thought we did to Him. Think not He has forgotten (M-17.7:4), the ego screams in our ears, demanding we protect ourselves from His incursions on our special peace. And protect us the ego does, guiding us to identify with the body, the symbol of mindlessness that keeps us from returning to the mind, wherein lies our only true defensechoosing love instead of fear. The ego, needless to say, never lets us in on its craftily maintained secret that the defense that is the world protects nothing but its wrong-minded thought system of separation and guilt. These delusional thoughts preserve our individual selves by staving off annihilation from the Holy Spirits Presence in our right minds. The truth remains, however, that the ego self is made upa non-existent problemas is the external defense that ends up hurting usa maladaptive solution. Therefore, following the ego offers no true safety or protection, and so we all continue to wander in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear (T-31.VIII.7:1). This article contrasts the egos insane line of defense with our true safety: the Love of God, held for us in safekeeping by Jesus. The World and Body: A Maladaptive Solution to a Non-Existent Problem The problem with defenses, simply stated, is that they ultimately do not work. Indeed, they serve merely to make the matter of the ego worse. Recall this important line from the text: defenses do what they defend (T-17.IV.7:1). The purpose of all defenses is to protect us from something we fearinternal or external. This means that the source of a defense is the fear that has its home in the mind, regardless of its outer expression. Therefore, since the meaning of any-

2 thing lies in its purpose, and the purpose of defenses is to protect us from fear, it inevitably follows that all defenses will remind us of our fear, for without it there would be no defense. As Jesus explains, believing we are separated we must identify with the egos defenses, in this case the body: The body is a fence the Son of God imagines he has built. ... [and it] is within this fence he thinks he lives, to die as it decays and crumbles. For within this fence he thinks that he is safe from love. Identifying with his safety, he regards himself as what his safety is (W-pII.5. 1:1-4). Thus the body, the egos major defense in its war against Gods memory in the mind, becomes the great reminder that the ego thought system of separation is alive and well, and very dangerous. Moreover, once in the world, we cannot help identifying with the bodythe ego has obliterated all memory of the minds Self that we now believe is our safety from the mind, the egos home of guilt, fear, and punishment. Yet the body, literally the projected thought of separation, sin, and death, but decays, crumbles, and dies (W-pII.5:1:2). Not a very effective line of defense, to be sure, for the body clearly provides no safety in a world that was made as an attack on God and symbolizes fear (W-pII.3. 2:1-2), as we read from the workbook: The world provides no safety. It is rooted in attack, and all its gifts of seeming safety are illusory deceptions. It attacks, and then attacks again. No peace of mind is possible where danger threatens thus. ... The mind ... knows not where to turn to find escape. ... It is as if a circle held it fast, wherein another circle bound it and another one in that, until escape no longer can be hoped for nor obtained. Attack, defense; defense, attack, become the circles of the hours and the days that bind the mind in heavy bands of steel with iron overlaid, returning but to start again. There seems to be no break nor ending in the ever-tightening grip of the imprisonment upon the mind (W-pI.153.1:2-5; 2:6; 3). Since the danger is within the mind and ideas leave not their source (see, e.g., T-19.I.7:6-7; T-26.VII.12-13), the world and body can offer no defense against the menacing attack inherent in the egos thought system, at the same time, once again, that they reinforce the sense of imminent and mortal danger. Thus the ego has successfully protected itself by first establishing a non-existent problemthe separation thought system of sin, guilt, and fearand then making up a maladaptive solutionthe world, body, and the special relationship. And all the while the true problemthe minds decision for the egoremains hidden, virtually inaccessible to the correction of Atonement. Thus does the world seek solutions to its problemsone after another after anotherall designed by the unconscious ego not to work, for the ultimate cause of distress and suffering is the minds decision to believe in illusory guilt, which remains buried beneath the egos maladaptive solutions: No one could solve all the problems the world appears to hold. They seem to be on so many levels, in such varying forms and with such varied content, that they confront you with an impossible situation. Dismay and depression are inevitable as you regard them. ... All this complexity is but a desperate attempt not to recognize the problem, and therefore not to let it be resolved (W-pI.79.5:1-3; 6:1). As an example, consider for the moment our situation as bodies living in the early 21st century. There is no part of our physical experience that has not been adversely affected by the environment. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eatanimal or vegetableall have been contaminated by our postIndustrial Revolution world. When you add into the equation the effects of global

3 warming, not to mention the radioactive fallout of governmental experiments and use of atomic warfare and artillery coated with depleted uranium, there is indeed no hope of adequately defending the highly vulnerable body. No matter how valiantly we strive to keep up our bodies immune system, we shall lose in the end, for there is no truly effective way to combat the persistent attacks on our physical and psychological selves. One form of humanitys attempts to solve the worlds problems falls under the category of utopian visions, which embrace the full spectrum of our ingenuity and inspiration as a species. Despite their good intentionsrecall Jesus cautionary words: Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough (T-18.IV.2:1-2) almost all these idealistic programs have ultimately failed, for they did not succeed in addressing the problem of the minds guilt. One prominent vision was offered by Karl Marx in the late 19 th century. Setting aside the political expressions Marxism has spawned in recent history, we see that this German philosopher sought to address the patent inequality among the worlds populations, and offered a social, political, and economic system to correct it. To date, however, it has rarely been tried, and, even then, not been entirely successful. Sigmund Freud put his psychoanalytic finger on the reason. He addressed Marxism in two late works, and in effect stated that it must fail since, regardless of any merit to the program of Marxs vision, it did not identify the true problem inherent aggressivenessthat resided in the minds of homo sapiens. Here is what Freud wisely wrote, and observe as well his penetrating analysis of what A Course in Miracles, decades later, would term special love and hate relationships. Succinctly stated, Freud saw Marxism (i.e., scientific socialism) as a fresh idealistic misconception of human nature that rested on an untenable illusion (XXI,113,143). This is his expanded thesis: For men always put their newly acquired instruments of power at the service of their aggressiveness and use them against each other. ... It is altogether incomprehensible how psychological forces can be overlooked when what is in question are the reactions of living human beings ... [expressing] their original instinctual impulses ... their self-preservative

considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness (New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1933; XXII,177-79; Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930; XXI,113-14; italics mine).

character of human nature] forms the basis of every relation of affection and love among people. ... It is clearly not easy for men to give up the satisfaction of this inclination to aggression. They do not feel comfortable without it. ... It is always possible to bind together a

instinct, their aggressiveness, their need to be loved, their drive towards obtaining pleasure and avoiding unpleasure. ... Aggressiveness [this indestructible feature and untameable

The implications of Freuds words are that our behavior, however well meaning, will turn out badly if the underlying aggressioncommon to the species is not dealt with. Freuds inherent pessimismat least in the short termis seen in his understanding our resistance to being without hatred: we simply do not feel comfortable without it. This insight into our resistance is reflected in A Course in Miracles as well, where Jesus teaches us about our fear of love: Under the egos dark foundation is the memory of God, and it is of this that you are really afraid. For this memory would instantly restore you to your proper place, and it is this place that you have sought to leave. Your fear of attack is nothing compared to your fear of love. ... Therefore, you have used the world to cover your love, and the deeper you go into the blackness of the egos foundation, the closer you come to the Love that is hidden there. And it is this that frightens you (T-13.III.2:1-3; 4:4-5).

4 This fear demands that we cling to guilt and hate as defenses, and thus our hanging-on to guilt, its hugging-close and sheltering, its loving protection and alert defense... (P-2. VI.1:3). Therefore, we can identify with love only by undoing the egos hatred and greedthe contentbefore proceeding with the form of loving behavior. This undoing is the adaptive solution to the existent problem. In other words, our true protection against the projected evils of the world is to recall the projection to the mind, where we can effectively choose against it. By going within and choosing differently, we can be here without fear. Many years ago, my wife Gloria had a dream in which she was walking midst bombs falling all around her, but she was unafraid and unscathed. Each of us has the potential of walking the world of danger, yet feeling a peace that can withstand all attacks, which we would know to be illusory. That is what it means to accept the Atonement for ourselves, our one responsibility. In summary, then, while there is relatively nothing we can do to truly strengthen the immune system of the body, we can, indeed we must, strive to build up the minds immune system. It is in the mind alone that we find the true source of the problems of contamination and aggression our decision for guiltand there alone we find the true source of our protectionacceptance of the Atonement. Atonement: The Adaptive Solution to the Existent Problem The issue is not the non-existent problem, for how can what does not exist be a problem? Rather, the problem is our belief in it as reality; i.e., the separation from God actually occurred. In the words of the text, the problem is not the tiny, mad idea that we could be separate from God, but that we remembered not to laugh and took it seriously (T-27. VIII.6:2-3). The egos unholy trinity of sin, guilt, and fear reflects this seriousness, as the three are quite serious ideas: the sin of separation, the guilt of our unworthiness to be loved, and the fear of punishment. That is why, earlier in the text, Jesus counsels us when we are confronted by this tiny thought: Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it (T18.I.6:7-9; boldface mine). And then, throughout our everyday experiences, when some twisted form of the original error rises to frighten us, he asks us to say God is not fear, but Love, and the problem will disappear (T-18.I.7:1)perhaps not in form, but certainly in content. The implications to us of this advicea principle that happily guides our return homeare enormous, for this alone is an adaptive solution to our only existing problem. We are never upset for the reason we think (W-pI.5), for the source of our distressregardless of its formlies in our decision to call madness sin, feel guilty over it, and then fear reprisal. To be sure, we all make mistakes, and all the time. We greatly prefer the egos grandiose lies of separation and its offspring specialness to the Holy Spirits truth of our grandeur as Gods one Son. Yet we are repeatedly told by Jesus that a mistake is not a sine.g., Son of God, you have not sinned, but you have been much mistaken (T-10. V.6:1)and thus does not deserve to be punished: The Holy Spirit cannot punish sin. Mistakes He recognizes, and would correct them all as God entrusted Him to do. But sin He knows not, nor can He recognize mistakes that cannot be corrected. For a mistake that cannot be corrected is meaningless to Him. Mistakes

5 are for correction, and they call for nothing else (T-19.III.4:1-5). Therefore, our one mistake wasand ishaving chosen the ego as our teacher and guide. To judge or punish such an error makes it real and keeps it so in our experience. Thus is the egos illusory existence guaranteed immortality, and Gods eternal Being relegated to simple non-existence: Punishment is always the great preserver of sin, treating it with respect and honoring its enormity. What must be punished, must be true. And what is true must be eternal, and will be repeated endlessly. For what you think is real you want, and will not let it go (T-19.III.2:47). Once the problem is correctly defined as a faulty decision, and its place correctly identified in the mind, its undoing is easy. Interestingly, we read in the 1945 preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization): Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. We can expand that wise statement to include all problemscollective and individual since we are taught in A Course in Miracles that the mind is all there is: the beginning and end of everything; the thought of separation and its undoing through accepting the Atonement. Imagine yourself in a rowboat with Jesus on a large body of water, and he is manning the oars. You suddenly realize that one oar is missing, and then to compound the situation, the remaining oar slips from its oarlock and falls into the water and disappears. You begin to panic, especially as the weather turns stormy, the seas become rough, and land has vanished from viewall seems lost. Yet Jesus is unruffled, and quietly says: Do not be afraid. This is only a dream. Open your eyes and you will be safe. We lift our eyes, and indeed the stormy scene is gone and we are back on the shore we never truly left, though our dreams seemed to take us far, far away. His love, reminding us of the truth that lies beyond our dreams, is our safety. While this situation is obviously symbolic, its meaning is true, and Jesus assures us it is no idle fantasy (W-pI.70.9:4). Whenever anything seems to disturb our peace and threaten our stability, we need only remember Jesus comforting words and his message of Atonement, our true defense: When you are afraid of anything, you are acknowledging its power to hurt you.... [The peace of God] is totally incapable of being shaken by errors of any kind. ... The Atonement is the only defense that cannot be used destructively. ... [It makes] you perfectly invulnerable ... [and] re-establishes the power of the mind... (T-2.II.1:4,10; 4:1; T-2.III.2:4; 4:6). What does this have to do with our everyday life? Everything! The principle of the Atonement means that regardless of what happens to us, or to those with whom we identify in our personal world or the world at large, nothing here has the power to take Gods peace from us. This peace, born of the memory of our Creators Love, is totally beyond the power of any external force to affect us: nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way (W-pI.70.2:2). The world certainly has power over our bodies, but cannot touch the mind. It would be like believing a puppet can affect the puppeteer, or a computer change its programmerperhaps in the worlds of Rod Serlings Twilight Zone or Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey, but not in the world of dreams, where only the dreamer has the power to affect the dream; it is not the other way around. Thus, as in Glorias dream, we are safe to be anywhere, with anyone, in any situation, and rest secure in the peace of God and the thought that we are safe within His Love: Completely undismayed, this thought will carry you through storms and strife, past

6 misery and pain, past loss and death, and onward to the certainty of God. There is no suffering it cannot heal. There is no problem that it cannot solve ... and while the world is torn by winds of hate your rest remains completely undisturbed. Yours is the rest of truth (WpI.109.3:2-4; 4:2-3). Correcting our mistaken choice for the egos separation, we happily resume our identification with the Holy Spirits Atonement. This identification had been interrupted for but an instantan instant that was never realthough the dream of separation seemed to extend almost to eternity. Returned to sanity, we remember our Identity as love, and gladly realize we never left the safety of our home as we awaken at last to our Self. Helens early poem, The Eternal Safety, offers a gentle conclusion to our discussion, sweetly describing the eternal safety that is ours when we remember our Identity as Gods sinless Son. At one in His Love and untouched by dreams of sin and fear, we forever remain as He created us: Holy am I. By Love created, and By Love sustained. For I have never left The Everlasting Arms. I am beset By dreams of sin, and grim forebodings seem To steal away my peace, and leave me prey To terror and malignant destiny. Yet does my holiness remain untouched, As God created it. For there can be No sin in God, and therefore none in me.

(The Gifts of God, p. 28)